Yikes! Washington auto insurance rates blast past inflation

Apr 5, 2024, 1:56 PM | Updated: 1:57 pm

stuck in traffic...

Seattle traffic. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Last year’s 24.7% average increase in auto insurance rates has more than raised eyebrows across Seattle. While rate fluctuations are common, this recent surge is an anomaly.

The average cost of car insurance in Seattle is $901 per year, or $75 per month, for a minimum-coverage policy. The average rate for a full-coverage policy is $2,086 per year or $174 per month, according to ValuePenguin, a Lending Tree firm that researches auto insurance.

According to Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner officials, insurance rates increased by about 12% in 2023 and 6.5% in 2022

Washington experienced a hefty auto insurance rate hike, with the state approving an average 7.1% premium increase in 2017. However, subsequent years saw more modest adjustments.

Weekend revelry roundup: Dance battles and rummage sales

In 2022, the average rate change settled at 2.8%, following a 3% decline in 2020 and no change in 2021. According to one analyst with the Insurance Commissioner’s office, these figures represent the weighted average base rate change among 20 insurance companies, collectively responsible for 77% of auto insurance policies in the state.

Consumer perspectives

On The Gee & Ursula Show, fill-in host Mike Lewis quipped, “We all got roughly 24% wage increases last year, so we’re doing fine, right? But these auto insurance hikes negate any gains.”

Host Ursula Reutin responded, “Wait, what? That’s it? We’re just netting out zero?”

The blame game has shifted to Mike Kreidler, Washington’s current Insurance Commissioner. Critics argue that linking the rate increase to inflation is an abdication of responsibility.

“This is not what you do as an insurance commissioner,” said Lewis. “Is Kreidler representing insurance buyers or the insurance industry?”

The insurance industry’s stance

Insurance companies defend their actions, emphasizing the need for profitability.

“Utilities get blasted when they go up by 8%, but a 24% increase? That’s excessive,” said Lewis. “Is the Insurance Commissioner truly advocating for consumers?”

Have you eaten at one of these restaurants? 6 in Washington up for major culinary award

Kreidler is nearing the end of his term ends and has already announced he is not running.

Will he land an advisory role with an insurance company? Become a consultant or lobbyist?

“I won’t speculate,” said Lewis. “But this 24% increase demands accountability. Frankly, I think he should resign.”

Uninsured drivers

With 8.5% of drivers already uninsured, experts predict a grim future.

“We’re headed for a 40% uninsured rate,” Lewis said. “It’s scary,” Ursula responded.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here

MyNorthwest News

school resource officers...

Frank Sumrall

School resource officers won’t be at certain Kent high schools in 2024-25

Both Kentwood and Kentlake high schools will not have school resource officers (SROs) next year, despite the growing advocacy for that role to return.

36 minutes ago

pierce county deputy-involved shooting...

Frank Sumrall

Man killed in Pierce County deputy-involved shooting

Pierce County deputies were in an deputy-involved shooting when they shot and killed a suspect after responding to a domestic violence situation.

2 hours ago

King County Council...

James Lynch

King County Council sees heated comments over family justice center

The King County Council Law and Justice Committee convened to vote on a motion regarding the Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center.

15 hours ago

Photo: Police responded to a Kent shooting after a boy died near the Kentwood Apartments....

Julia Dallas

Suspect in custody: 13-year-old boy killed in Kent shooting over camera

A suspect is in custody over the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy that happened July 16 in Kent.

17 hours ago

Netanyahu protesters...


Netanyahu vows ‘total victory’ while thousands protest outside capitol

Netanyahu addressed Congress in Washington on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the nation's capitol city was filled with protesters.

19 hours ago

7-year-old robbery...

Luke Duecy

7-year-old among group of juveniles wanted for robbery in North Seattle

A group of juveniles, including a 7-year-old, are wanted for robbery in North Seattle after an incident earlier this week.

22 hours ago

Yikes! Washington auto insurance rates blast past inflation